ighttime in the city brings a heightened sense of awareness to sounds. The daytime hum of the city, at night becomes disconnected moments punctuating the stillness.
I have no idea how thin our walls are. I think our neighbours in our semi-detached home are even quieter than us so I have no reference point. The only sounds I hear from others in the house are at night – the creaking of the floorboards just before I doze off to sleep.
During the day, there is so much white noise in the city that drowns out the simple noises of a house. At first, the punctuations at night were heightened to my sensitized ear. It took me a whole year to get used to the many sounds of Toronto and to be able to fall asleep without earplugs. Now the late night passing of a streetcar soothes me off to sleep.
There is however, one late night noise that still jars me out of my routine. Every once and a while our late night movie will go beyond a normal hour. I often forget that we share a wall. Only twice now have I been jarred to this realization as an eerie thump raps three times against our wall.
Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische
“Picking while it rains is generally ok – though you have to be more careful when the ladder is wet or the tree limbs are wet. If you can hear thunder close by or see lightning definitely cancel the pick immediately.” – NFFTT Coordinator
The forecast was stormy, but fortunately it was mostly sunny for my first pick with Not Far from the Tree (a few gray clouds lingered)! Part of the adventure was finding the equipment before I started my first pick. A colourful alleyway and a sunken gate led the way to the pickup site for the picking gear – a coordinator binder, weighing scale, and plastic bags for the tender berries.
There are a lot of details that go back and forth before a pick happens, and the instructions above were just part of it! If you haven’t heard of Not Far from the Tree, they’re doing great things in putting Toronto’s fruit to good use by helping homeowners harvest their unused fruit trees and picking and sharing the bounty. As a volunteer supreme gleaner my responsibilities are leading fruit picks across Parkdale/High Park, coordinating and orienting volunteers at each pick and transporting the fruit by bicycle to donation centres such as food banks, shelters and community kitchens.
My first pick was Serviceberries (pictured above)! They’re tasty little berries and if you’re out in western Canada, they’re very similar to Saskatoons. We only got a few pounds of berries, but it was a good start with a great group of volunteers. Heather even made her modest berry portion into some jam!
Here’s looking forward to more fruit picks throughout the season!
his is where I spend a lot of my time. First of all, we are very lucky to have a room as a dedicated office. Secondly, we are very lucky to have a beautiful bay window overlooking a field here in the big city. Thirdly, I am very lucky to have a special someone who had a roll-top desk made for me by the Old Mennonites! (Now I need to get to work!)
I have started a good collection of plants and I plan to start my gardening next spring from seed in this window. That bamboo table will be full of seeds in little trays. Yes, I’m thinking about it already. FIRST, I must finish my degree, so I will have to leave this space open for all the books I will be reading and using for my research papers.
That is my broken hard drive on top of my desk. Z decided to try and pull it apart and inspect it since no data could be salvaged off of it . . . don’t worry, I’ve shed my tears from all the lost data and I’ve learned my lesson about backing things up and maybe you can learn from that too.
Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische.
veryday I come home to my warm and cozy house effortlessly navigating my way through the rooms. I have vivid memories of doing this in my parents house before I went to bed at night. All the lights would be off (I was the night owl with the job of ensuring all electricity was saved overnight) and in the darkness I would imagine all the elements of the room around me as I made my way from my bedroom to the kitchen – through my doorway, across the hallway carpet and past the pocket door, across the cool marble tile of the entryway, over the hardwood with my hand raised to elbow height and gliding across the tops of the dining room chairs, through the doorway and a quick right into the kitchen for a late night glass of water or to retrieve a heated wheat bag from the microwave.
Now I live in a much older house here in Toronto. The floor squelches as I make my way around on it. I have become accustomed to the floor’s noisiness, but this character of my house adds character to my day. The stairs are especially creaky. Sometimes we hurry up them to retrieve one forgotten item. I can hear Z’s bouncy step. Other times I sleepily lumber up them, taking in each creak along with my slow relaxed breaths.
This is my first video entry of “my everyday dialogue” that I am sharing with you. Right now I only have my lumix camera, but soon I should get my video camera back from loaning it out. Right now I also only have Z’s Dell computer, but soon I will have my Mac back with a new and improved hard drive. Actually, it is the crashing of my computer that has inspired me to creativity. I now have a real notebook rather than a notebook computer. I can write, list, draw, reflect cut and paste scrap items/beautiful Japanese paper. I am more free to be and write my ideas in my own hand and then transfer them to digital form. I am free to envision sharing my moments with you and my dialogue with my surroundings.
This is the space I walk in. Mind the shadowy rooms – it is hallows eve after all.
Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische.
1. Opera eerily echoes from my radio alarm clock upstairs on the third floor . . . remnants of sound which comforted a dog home alone during my day at work.
2. Aloe slowly spears its way into my upper periphery. Tier two of my rolltop desk holds a few new plants. . . which may or may not be liking their new home.
As we sit here in the open rear car, open to the air and the mountains and the clacking of the wheels along the tracks; I listen to the pan-flute music moving with the rhythm of the train.
The music is continuous and it plays through the wheels and rails even now that the musicians are gone.
My current view is of the grain fields. The harvest is almost over and the Peruvians will give thanks for the bounty on June 21, their winter solstice.
The piles of sheared wheat sit in rows of cone shapes, their grainy spears spiraling to the centre, waiting to be placed in a multicoloured woven cloth and onto the backs of the men and women with their felt brimmed hats.
I spend a lot of time in High Park. We moved where we are now so that we could be close to this largest park in the city. I go for runs there with Reggie multiple times a week and take him to the off-leash area. Now I am one who goes to the park through all the seasons and in any weather. I love to watch as the seasons change and how the park looks different. In my mind I like to hold a series of images of each place so I can know it in its varied dress.
At the beginning of the month I was expressing my excitement for the upcoming blossoming trees to my massage therapist. She is a fellow blogger and nature observer in the Don Valley. You can check out her Beechwood Wetland Blog. She has been keeping up on the blossoms for me and dropped by my store to let me know that the Cherry Blossoms are out in High Park.
Now I have been keeping tabs on the blossoms myself as well, but I did not know that they would be out in full bloom just a day after I had noticed that there were small buds!
The very next day I went over there on my run with Reggie to soak it all in – a beautiful pink/white canopy. It was a serene and quiet Wednesday morning in the park. On the weekend I decided to take Zak over there and little did I know how busy it would be. I have never seen so many people in High Park! It was as though there was a large concert taking place on the hill amongst the cherry blossoms. The voices were rising through the excitement, as a crowd excitedly discusses an engaging concert during intermission
Everyone takes their turn posing in front of their favourite blossoming tree. Cameras are focused closely on individual branches. People mingling below the trees have animated and happy conversations – it’s hard not to smile, how often does one have a pink canopy overhead? The colour is light and beautiful and the air is alight with spring.
Many of these people are only capturing what is High Park for two short weeks of a 52 week year. I hope that they come back to see the changes, as they are just as beautiful. Maybe I am just one of the few who likes to “keep an eye on things”.
“If we were not here, material events like the passage of seasons would lack even the meager meanings we are able to muster for them. The show would play to an empty house, as do all those falling stars which fall in the daytime. That is why I take walks: to keep an eye on things.”
– Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk
These melodic words were on my lips throughout my childhood. My mother and father chimed in – whomever was nearest, as I recited my favourite book. It was a melody we sang throughout the day and even as they tucked me in at night.
I can still recite the first five pages or so . . .
Happy Winter, rise and shine!/ I love the early morning time./ My sister snuggles close to me – Two bugs in a rug we laugh and see/ How frosty patterns look like lace –/
Each window has its special face./ We rub the glass – Hey look out there!/ Surprise! Surprise! Snow’s everywhere!/ And everything’s so twinkly bright – / Hooray for the snow that fell last night!
This book creates such a feeling of excitement for winter. The rhythms of the words bounce me throughout the day. The first image displayed here is one from when I lived in Edmonton. I woke up one morning to find a beautiful frosted pattern on my window. My poorly placed window plastic, along with the leaky, old and splintery window as well as the cold and sunny day created the perfect conditions for some intricately formed frosted stars.
The second image is from the last weekend in January, which Z and I spent at the cottage. It was a true cold and wintry weekend up north – unlike the winter we experience here in the big city. We spent our weekend outdoors, cross-country skiing as well as snowshoeing. Our pup Reggie loved tagging along with us. You can see his tracks zigzagging across our ski tracks. Just imagine him bounding through the deep snow, his eyes all bright, tongue hanging out. We plowed along slowly through the deep uncut snow. He would stop, look back and quietly whine – “hurry up now! There’s so much to explore!”
My parents would take their turns reading this book to me each night. I would also take turns with them in reading the lines, or alternate pages – my eyes wide “Dad, can I turn the page and read the next one – the page where they make the chocolate cake?”
We would wake up on a snowy Saturday morning. Mom would be in the kitchen making her cup of black tea. We would both look out the window together . . . “Happy winter!!” “Rise and shine!”
Happy Winter, get-dressed song -/ I wish it didn’t take so long/ To wriggle into old snowsuits./ To lace and hook the rubber boots./ To zip and snap to keep things on/ Or find a glove when mitten’s gone.
My siblings, D, J, and I would clamber towards the front door across the carpet in our sock feet to the cold tile of the front entry. Standing on our tippy toes we would reach up together for the large Rubbermaid container with all the mittens and scarves. It would take us a while to find the appropriate mittens – a matching pair. We would try on various scarves – some would smell funny, “Hey look, it’s Dad’s old red scarf! I’m wearing this one!” We’d waddle outside in our mismatched outfits to try out the GT snow racer on the small hill in the park. If I go further back to the days where the snow piled higher and higher, we would dig out our own form of igloo in the piles of snow created by the plow.
Happy Winter, shout and laugh!/ I’ll be the first to stomp a path/ So follow me – my boots make tracks/ That wind about and double back/ To one smooth place of sparkly snow . . .
This image is from when Z and I went snowshoeing on the final day of our weekend at the cottage. We cut across the field from his uncle’s house and then across the road to an outdoor excursion company’s property. We cut through their trail that went through the cedar bush and over to a vacant property. It was my first time snowshoeing. If we had done this hike without the snowshoes it would’ve been miserable. Instead of slogging through the deep snow, we were able to enjoy the views around us and imagine the possibilities for our future property.
Even Reggie was mesmerized by the views. He was usually the first to “stomp a path”.
Happy Winter, steamy tub/ To soak and splash in, wash and rub./ Big blobs of bubbles pile on me/ The way the snow sits on a tree.
This lonely tree we discovered among all the cedars does have big bubbles all over it like the girl in the tub. The image of the bathtub in this book always fascinated me. I couldn’t help but notice that the tub had FEET! Well, this was some tub! I imagined it walking away with the girl in it, or making it’s way over to the over-sized carpets in the bathroom – you know bathroom floors are quite cold in the winter!
I dream one day of having my own tub with feet! Maybe it will look something like this. Or maybe I will have a huge over-sized carpet in front of it as well and after a long day of adventuring outside I can sprawl all my warm winter clothes all over it and have a warm soak in a footed bathtub.
A Happy Winter day cannot last indefinitely. This book was also the perfect book for my parents to get me to go to sleep. As they would turn to the last three pages, they were completely black, with only the white text on them:
With one last flick it’s dark again./ The big black night is soft and spread/ Just like the quilt upon my bed./ I’m warm and toasty, very snug,/ Then Mama comes for one last hug/ And sings a winter lullaby,
You can see that we read this together many times. The page is now taped in the middle. My mom or dad would start reading this page along with me. They would flick out the light. We knew it by memory. They would slowly walk out the door, peeking their head through as they closed it slowly and said the last words. Then I would close my eyes and fall asleep – my imagination continuing on in its wintry wonderland.
- This post is dedicated to my Mom and Dad.
I would love to keep writing here regularly, but it has been quite a busy fall! I have been finishing up a correspondence course in German (exam on November 14), taking a course at UofT, and gearing up for Christmas at the store (Ten Thousand Villages). To top it all off we got a puppy on September 18!! Here he is! He has grown so much since we got him.
This weekend we will be taking him to the cottage for the first time. I am looking forward to all of the fall colour – I hope it’s not gone yet. I will also take some time to slow down and write a bit more.